Kit Review: cyber-hobby.com 1/35 scale Kit No. 16 (Dragon Models Limited 1/35 scale '39-'45 series Kit No. 6355; T-34/76 STZ Mod. 19412-in-1; 401 in grey styrene, 180 "Magic Link" tracks, 178 etched brass, 3 twisted steel wires, 2 clear styrene, 1 turned aluminum: price estimated at US$45.00
Advantages: very complete kit of this vehicle, several options and choices for the modeler
Disadvantages: will not build the version many modelers were hoping for from DML (see text)
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all Soviet and "34" fans
When the Soviets realized war with Germany was inevitable, and the T-34 began to show a great deal of promise, the Central Committee of the CPSU approved its production at other factories. The primary factory was the Kharkov Steam Locomotive Construction Factory or Factory No. 183 in Kharkov. The first satellite factory was to be the Stalingrad Tractor Factory in Stalingrad, aided by Factory No. 264, the Stalingrad Barge Works, and Factory No. 221, the "Barrikady" artillery foundry. The second was Factory No. 112, "Krasnoye Sormovo," but they also had the advantage of getting 50 knocked-down T-34 tanks to "learn on".
It took the STZ much longer to get their production started and the first tanks did not began to roll off the lines until the end of 1940. One of their problems - as with Factory No. 183 - was that the Leningrad factory complexes were stingy with supplying them with the short L-11 gun which mounted in the early T-34; in January 1941 they switched to the superior F-32 design, and cut off the T-34 plants entirely. Factory No. 183 led the changeover to their new gun, the longer F-34, and the STZ followed suit.
Originally the STZ tanks were externally no different from the Factory No. 183 tanks, and it was only over time and due to exigencies that the design began to deviate due to local problems and changes to facilitate high rates of production. The base design remained stable through the fall of 1941. By the spring of 1942, the design had changed. The wheels were now cast steel wheels with internal rubber bushings vice the old pressed disks with rubber tires. The turret was a rolled steel design with a removable plate that now covered the entire rear of the turret. The hull design had been changed to accommodate interlocking plates at the front, sides and rear, which is considered the "classic" STZ hull design.
By summer 1942 the design had again been changed to now use a "chisel" turret mantelet to speed production (the parts did not require being pressed into shape as with the original design.) Later, the Barge Works created newer designs of both cast and welded turrets with the "chisel" mantelet and "notches" in the lower cheeks of the turret; this is what most modelers consider the "classic" STZ turret. By the time production ceased in early 1943, the factory had built3,770 tanks, most of which had fought in the legendary battle of Stalingrad. There is a myth that the tanks rolled off the production lines and right into combat outside the factory, but while there is an element of truth to the urgency of production it was not quite so immediate.
When DML began to release its T-34 series of kits a few years back, and they were shown to be THE T-34 kits on the market, many T-34 afficionados hoped that an STZ variant would join the family. This increased when cyber-hobby.com announced that they would do one as a "boutique" version kit of the vehicle. But...the result was not what anyone expected.
First off, it has to be said up front that the kit they released is an STZ-built T-34 Model 1941. But it is a variant from sometime in the middle to late fall of 1941, with the new turret with the wide rear plate and the solid cast steel wheels, but the original Factory No.183 hull and gun installation designs. It can be built as an earlier model with the pressed steel disk wheels and with some sanding and putty work (and a DML T-34 Model 1940/41 cast turret) the interim cast turret used by STZ without any rear plate at all, but as for the STZ Model 1942 most modelers were hoping for, the answer is a solid no. That is a shame, as it would have been a great kit. (Zvezda makes that turret in styrene, but unfortunately they put theirs atop a regular T-34 Model 1942 chassis from Factory No.183.)
Given that disappointment up front, what is provided in the kit is excellent. It is basically the complete DML T-34 Model 1941 kit with additional sprues for the new turret parts, new hull details, a choice of fender tips, and two sets of wheels, idlers and drivers. New "Magic Track" separate track links are provided, but they are for one of the regular "waffle" pattern tracks so nothing fancy there either.
As with most "boutique" kits it comes with a good-sized fret of etched brass which covers nearly all of the brackets and straps used on the original vehicle as well as the engine radiator exhaust grille and deflector louvers.
The model comes with four finishing options: 1st Guards Tank Brigade, Eastern Front 1942 (brown over 4BO green with red stars); Unidentified unit, Eastern Front 1942 (4BO green overall with white 85); the usual "captured" German one, Eastern Front 1942-1943 (4BO green with Balkenkreuze); and Unidentified Unit, Leningrad 1942-1943 (white patches over 4BO green.) A small targeted sheet of Cartograf decals is provided for these options. Note that the side views show wheel options for these vehicles which are NOT called out in the directions.
Overall this is a lovely kit - but it's not what the modelers were hoping for.
Thanks to Freddie Leung for the review sample.